My Path To Preparedness, by C.R.H.

Many people feel the need to be prepared for TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situations, and I am one of those people. I do not know what leads other people down the path to preparedness and preparation but the answer for me would just be a simple case of awareness because of the close to home disasters that have happened in my lifetime. My father (a Vietnam veteran) taught me to always be reasonably prepared for any situation because you never know what can go wrong, and he led by example by keeping food stores, first aid and medical supplies, and emergency kits around the house.   While I have never lived in a collapsing country warring within itself, or a country falling apart due to full economic collapse with food shortages and people rioting in the streets, my little area in Bullitt County, Kentucky has seen its fair share of disasters. Some manmade issues and others caused by Mother Nature, but in all cases those who were well prepared fared far better than those who were not.  

* November 1991 a train carrying 9,000 lbs of explosives, 90 cluster bombs and multiple highly flammable cars crashed through the rail bridge and into the Salt River authorities immediately evacuated the surrounding area (about 1,000 people) and sealed off entrance to the area. Luckily the bombs didn’t explode and the disaster was contained to just the burn off of some chemicals, but people were misplaced from their homes until the area was considered safe.  

* January 1994 a record snowfall of 15.9″ came down overnight trapping an unprepared city in their homes, closing down schools for over a week, halting business operations for almost as long due to the city being totally unprepared and not having adequate equipment to clear the roads. My family, nice and toasty in the house with a fully stocked pantry, while others walked to the store because they couldn’t move their cars. Neighbors knocked on our door asking my father to take them to the doctor, the store and many other places because he was the only one around our area with 2 four wheel drive vehicles that could manage the roads without the city clearing them.  

*May 1996 an F4 tornado tore through multiple parts of Bullitt County wiping out homes from Brooks all the way through to Taylorsville. Electric was out for almost a week with many residents leaving for hotels or locations, my family was able to sit tight with lanterns, camp stoves and food stores already prepped for such emergencies.  

*February 1997 massive flooding shut down large areas of Louisville along the Ohio River, Shepherdsville along the Salt River and many other parts of Kentucky. 19 people lost their lives due to being unprepared for arising situations. The city again fell down to lack of planning having misplaced the gates to the flood walls in Louisville. Shepherdsville did not fare much better evacuating the city proper which was 9ft deep in water.  

*January 2007 Train derailment in Brooks, Kentucky causing chemical spills and the local government to prompt a recommended 1 mile radius evacuation (my home was in the two mile zone and we had to shut off the heat to stop it from pulling in fumes). The effects of this one are still noticeable from burned out trees along the tracks to the fenced off staging area where they cut the train cars up to haul off.   In all of these cases, the city government responded within a reasonable amount of time, giving what resources they had to help with the situation and then within a matter of days the Governor calling the areas disaster areas and getting federal assistance down to those in need but in my case we were home, going about our normal prepared lives thanks to my dad for planning ahead. I had the ability to witness these scenarios from relative comfort due to a little forward thinking and now I find myself trying to preplan when it comes to my family’s safety. And I think about the fact that things could have been much worse in each of these situations, it could have been the catastrophe like Katrina where the government and FEMA fell down on the job.  

Building on his principles and those thoughts I have started to learn more on my own, which is what has led me to sites like and and many others and it has opened my eyes even further to many ways of being prepared that had never crossed my mind (BOBs, Bugging in, food storage and preservation and a plethora of other things) that I have started to use in my prepping. I have started reading books like the US Army Survival Manual (FM 21-76) and that SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman and building the different kits I have been reading about and trying to speak with some of my friends to get them more prepared for situations.   Here are a few things I have learned living through these situations and prepping for multiple other scenarios:

1.        Water is a must. Find a corner in your house and stock a few gallons or a couple of cases of bottles, rotate them out every so often with a fresh supply. Have more than one way in your house to obtain water if necessary: i.e. water purification tabs, Katadyn filter, knowledge of making your own filter or just plain boiling it if necessary.

2.        In every situation the necessities are the first to go at the store so keep your pantry stocked with a minimum of three days of food. If you have some unused space in your house stock 3 days worth outside of your normal use foods. Look for items with at least an expiration date 1 year from the time of purchase. Can goods will last a couple of years past but keep track and rotate out when food nears its expiration date. MREs, camp food, and other non perishables make great items.

3.        Have a plan. It is no good to have yourself fully prepared for TEOTWAWKI if your family has no clue of what is going on. What are you going to bug out and forget to take them with you?

4.        Keep lists, organized lists. Know what is in your emergency gear, your bug out bag, and the food stores you built up. Know how to use the gear you add to your emergency set up, it may  look cool be a totally awesome survival tool but if you don’t know how to use it, well then it’s totally pointless.

5.        Add a map to your emergency kit and know how to use it. Your GPS may be able to get you anywhere you want to go, but it’s useless if you don’t have the power to operate it. Maps have a much longer track record and work without having to be charged up. Also have a localized map and have multiple evac routes highlighted out of your neighborhood in case your chosen route is blocked (I lived on a dead end street as a kid and when the tornado came through it blocked the only road out).

6.        If you have a generator, then have a stock of gas/fuel piled up to run it because if the power is out then the pumps at the station up the road are not going to work to get gas.

7.        A good knife can be your best friend in any situation.  And you are only as sharp as your knife so keep it sharp and take care of it.

8.        It is always better to have something than to have nothing at all. With that motto I have put together a few small pocket size survival kits and I keep them at home, in the vehicles and in my pack. For the most part they are nothing more than a small can(Altoid’s breath mints can) that I put razor blades, a basic first aid set up/ burn cream, Band-Aids, butterfly closure, antiseptic ointment, some fishing line with hooks and split shot sinkers, snare wire, matches and a lighter plus some cotton wadding as tinder.

9.        Do not store all of your gear together. If your home is hit by a tornado, a flood, fire or whatever can happen if all of your gear is stored together and that part is destroyed you have no recourse. Have stuff stored between the house, garage, shed at least one stockpile may survive the situation.

10.    Never underestimate the desperation of those around you. Do not let anyone know you are building up stockpiles, because you will be the first place everyone around you turns in case of emergency.

11.    Build your own emergency kits. There are many styles out there for sale and many of them include good, quality tools and survival items. But you need to tailor them to your own needs, I have not seen any kit that covers everything I want in a kit (and I like adding multiple ways to start a fire). Plus you can usually build them out of better tools that you pick cheaper than buying the whole kit together.

12.    Learn multiple weapons systems. Know the AR-15/M-16 system and the Kalashnikov because they are prevalent in the present era and you will find them far more common than you believe. Don’t rely on just knowing how to breakdown and maintain your pistol, or one style of shotgun because you may not be able to find ammo for those.

13.    Research, learn, practice you may have all the skills necessary but if you don’t practice them then they won’t be of much use.

14.    Remember paying off your debt as part of your preparation. The credit card companies, banks, loan companies have their info protected in bunkers made to survive all but total annihilation. So unless it is a total TEOTWAWKI situation then they will come after you after things return to normalcy. Just pay it down now and you will not have to worry about it in the future.   This is just my .02 and what I am doing to prepare my family. Be safe, be prepared, keep your powder dry and your spirits high.